How can original sin be "transmitted"?


#1

Dear Friends:

The Catechism teaches that Original Sin is a “death of the soul” with which all humans are afflicted. (CCC no. 403) “Death of the soul” means separation from God. (CCC no. 1033) Original Sin is said not to be the same as personal sin for which we are guilty, but is “sin” only by analogy. (CCC no. 404) Yet it seems to be real sin in the sense of separation from God (the “death of the soul”). Original Sin is “transmitted by propagation to all mankind.” (CCC no. 404)

But how can this be? What is propagated by our parents is our physical body. God creates every human soul individually, from nothing. (CCC no. 366) So how can the newly-created soul be deemed to be separated from the God who immediately created it? This seems to impute the creation of a sinful condition to God. This cannot be, but I do not know where to find the answer that overcomes this difficulty.

Sodbuster


#2

How can original sin be “transmitted”?

In about the same way you have your parent characteristics (your mother’s lips, father’s eyes etc).

In a bioengineering kinda way because of original sin we are mutated. Then our offspring carries own this defected mutation.


#3

It is not so much that original sin is transmitted in a positive way, it is that original sin is a void in the soul which needs to be filled; a lack of grace. I heard it explained like this: if you took an x-ray of the soul, original sin would not be this big spot that you could say, “Oh! There it is!” On the contrary, original sin is a defect whereby we inherit the pride of our first parents; the belief that we can have and do everything without God. It is the lack of the supernatural life that God gave to Adam and Eve in the beginning, but which they rejected with the Fall when they turned to themselves when confronted with the serpant rather than go to God for help. In order for the defect of original sin to be filled, we have to be infused with the free gift of God’s supernatural life (grace). The normal way that this occurs (according to the teaching of the Church) is through the sacrament of Baptism.


#4

[quote=WBB]It is not so much that original sin is transmitted in a positive way, it is that original sin is a void in the soul which needs to be filled; a lack of grace. I heard it explained like this: if you took an x-ray of the soul, original sin would not be this big spot that you could say, “Oh! There it is!” On the contrary, original sin is a defect whereby we inherit the pride of our first parents; the belief that we can have and do everything without God. It is the lack of the supernatural life that God gave to Adam and Eve in the beginning, but which they rejected with the Fall when they turned to themselves when confronted with the serpant rather than go to God for help. In order for the defect of original sin to be filled, we have to be infused with the free gift of God’s supernatural life (grace). The normal way that this occurs (according to the teaching of the Church) is through the sacrament of Baptism.
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Yup. That’s St Anselm’s explanation.


#5

[quote=beng]Yup. That’s St Anselm’s explanation.
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Oops, that was not St Anselm. I remember the same reasoning form here:

[quote=“Rev. Charles Coppens, SJ”]179. The nature of original sin, as explained by many though not by all Catholic writers, is as follows: men are now born deprived of sanctifying grace, or without that grace which they ought to have; this privation had its origin in an actual sin, that of Adam; and it is identical with the state to which a Christian is reduced when he commits a mortal sin. This explanation commended itself to the great St. Anselm, who declares that he cannot understand original sin to be anything but the absence, due to the disobedience of Adam, of that robe of justice which ought to be ours.

The propagation of original sin is explained if we remark that, when God creates the soul and unites it with the body, which has the nature of the race to which it belongs, He abstains, in view of the sin of Adam, from conferring upon that soul the gifts above and beyond nature which He would otherwise have conferred.

  1. The mystery of original sin consists in the Divine dispensation whereby the fortunes of mankind were placed in the hands of Adam. This does not violate the rights of men; for they have lost none but supernatural gifts, to which they had no right. And the punishment of original sin in the next world is not pain of sense, but privation of the beatific vision, which is not due to any created nature. Therefore God would have done us no injustice, even if, without the fault of any man, He had created us as we are now born, but without stain of sin. Gregory XI censured the contrary doctrine of Baius. Such an imaginary state of man as we have just supposed is called the state of pure or simple nature; but, owing to the Redemption, man is actually in the state of restored nature. The state of Adam and Eve before the fall was the state of original justice.
    [/quote]

#6

So, then there still seems to be a problem, in that God creates a soul that is missing somthing (grace)? And then as soon as the soul comes into the world there is the opportunity to baptise that soul (without asking it- infant baptism) which is regarded as a free gift of grace… why not just include that free gift from the beginning?


#7

[quote=bengeorge]So, then there still seems to be a problem, in that God creates a soul that is missing somthing (grace)? And then as soon as the soul comes into the world there is the opportunity to baptise that soul (without asking it- infant baptism) which is regarded as a free gift of grace… why not just include that free gift from the beginning?
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Simple. Because Adam and Eve rejected it “in the beginning.”


#8

When a father loses his fortune and becomes a pauper, his children inherits his poverty. In this way, Adam’s sin is transmitted to his children and all his descendants. The loss of supernatural gifts by our first parents came down to us simply because we are their children, and their loss, we inherited likewise.

Gerry :slight_smile:


#9

[quote=RobedWithLight]When a father loses his fortune and becomes a pauper, his children inherits his poverty. In this way, Adam’s sin is transmitted to his children and all his descendants. The loss of supernatural gifts by our first parents came down to us simply because we are their children, and their loss, we inherited likewise.

Gerry :slight_smile:
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Very Good! I shall have to remember this!

Thanks!


#10

[quote=bengeorge]So, then there still seems to be a problem, in that God creates a soul that is missing somthing (grace)? And then as soon as the soul comes into the world there is the opportunity to baptise that soul (without asking it- infant baptism) which is regarded as a free gift of grace… why not just include that free gift from the beginning?
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If that were the case, Christ could have just said “You are all forgiven” without ever dying on the Cross for our sins, and go back to heaven after saying so.

Such a free gift from the very beginning as you suggest, which I presume is somewhat like “baptism” before birth, in the same way would render the sacrament of baptism itself as Jesus instituted it, unnecessary and hence redundant, which goes against Christ’s command to His disciples to “make disciples of all nations and **baptize **them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit”.

It could by logical extension, lead to a basic denial of the reality of original sin by making it purely a personal sin of Adam and Eve and hence only they would be excluded from Paradise, not us, their descendants. If that were the case, we would still possess today, for instance the beatific vision. But we know that isn’t the case.

Gerry :slight_smile:


#11

I don’t think we can really ask (let alone answer) this sort of “mechanism” question in any intelligible way. It is like asking how did Christ’s death reunite us with God? You can of course use the substitutionary atonement model and talk about how we had this debt to pay that Christ could pay since he is divine, but then it makes God out to be the divine banker. We can talk about how Christ is the new Adam and he somehow restores all of humanity to a place where we can again acquire sanctifiying grace. But all of these explanations are oversimplifcations that don’t make perfect sense.

Likewise, to say Adam and Eve squandered our inheritance, for instance, doesn’t make sense because as a previous post-er said, why doesn’t he just forgive our debt?

Another such mechanistic quandary is that of prayer. How is my prayer even efficacious if God knows what I pray before it happens? How is it better that someone else prays for me? Why is it better that two or three pray together (because there Jesus is)?

How can free will and God’s omniscience possibly be reconciled?

I’m not saying these questions are nonsensical and are therefore invalid. I’m saying these questions are so out of our league that there is no use trying to even speculate as to the mechanism, because anything we might propose would be inadequate.

The point is anyone really must agree that original sin is true. No matter how moral a person is, they are always subject to sin. The just man falls 7 times each day. Even the righteous King David fell into sexual sin. I can only say that original sin is true both by observation and by divine revelation. Only God knows the mechanism (as far as I know). Its purpose is to reveal to us our great need for God as our savior.


#12

Indeed, original sin would be meaningless to us Adam’s descendants if we would accept the view that everyone born was already forgiven prior to birth.

Gerry :slight_smile:


#13

[quote=RobedWithLight]When a father loses his fortune and becomes a pauper, his children inherits his poverty. In this way, Adam’s sin is transmitted to his children and all his descendants. The loss of supernatural gifts by our first parents came down to us simply because we are their children, and their loss, we inherited likewise.

Gerry :slight_smile:
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this may be the best “short answer” to a complex question I have ever seen. this forum never ceases to amaze me. just when I think I know it all and can instruct others from atop my mountain, along comes a thread that opens up things I have never considered or studied. could this possibly mean that at my advanced age I still have more to learn? gasp!


#14

Sin is transmitted to a human body from parents’ “sinful genes”. Then this “sinful genes” are being activated when all the faculty of minds, hearts, volitions, will and choices are in the age where human is capable, liable, and responsible of his/her action.

This “sinful genes” had started from Adam, passed to his sons, and to his children and to us.


#15

[quote=pendoko]Sin is transmitted to a human body from parents’ “sinful genes”. Then this “sinful genes” are being activated when all the faculty of minds, hearts, volitions, will and choices are in the age where human is capable, liable, and responsible of his/her action.

This “sinful genes” had started from Adam, passed to his sons, and to his children and to us.
[/quote]

No no no.

We have no sinful gene. Original sin is not within our genetic code.


#16

[quote=RobedWithLight]When a father loses his fortune and becomes a pauper, his children inherits his poverty. In this way, Adam’s sin is transmitted to his children and all his descendants. The loss of supernatural gifts by our first parents came down to us simply because we are their children, and their loss, we inherited likewise.

Gerry :slight_smile:
[/quote]

Fine. But wherein lies culpability related specifically to original sin?

Second, it doesn’t seem as though anyone has solved the apparent logical conundrum of the original poster:

  1. Original sin is death of the soul.
  2. God creates each soul immediately ex nihilo.

The logical conclusion would seem to be that after o-sin, God creates the soul in this negative condition…however negative the condition is (i.e. a lacking rather than a positive something).

Perhaps it cannot be solved, as one poster suggested…


#17

It might be worth taking a broader perpective here;

It seems to me a way of understanding the nature of original sin and its impact on every individual is to think of a child being born into a world where the dices are simply loaded against all efforts to live virtuously.

The church community in its ideal form would be a protective milieu…into which we are baptised. The extent to which we all fail to live lives of holiness is in part due to the ongoing effects of original sin and the failure of the church community to guard us from the sin of the world.


#18

Second, it doesn’t seem as though anyone has solved the apparent logical conundrum of the original poster:

  1. Original sin is death of the soul.
  2. God creates each soul immediately ex nihilo.

The logical conclusion would seem to be that after o-sin, God creates the soul in this negative condition…however negative the condition is (i.e. a lacking rather than a positive something).

Friends:

Yes, this is what I was trying to pose as the problem.

In thinking this over, it appears that perhaps the answer is wrapped up with some deeper description of what it means for the soul to be “infused” into the body, and how the two interact thereafter. Assuming the soul has nothing lacking when God creates it, what effect does the body have on the soul at the beginning? We know that the soul is the seat of the mind, and that physical injuries and impediments affect the mind. How, we can’t exactly say. Is “original sin” something similar, in the moral sphere? Does the body somehow cripple the soul immediately upon the fusion of the two?

If we think of “original sin” as a fundamental turn away from God toward ourselves–an orientation of selfishness rather than of charity/love–is the ordinary primal instinct of self-survival a manifestation of “original sin”? Perhaps it is not the instinct of self-preservation itself, but what might be the inordinate power of the instinct in our lives, compared to what it would be if our soul had the complete mastery of our passions that Adam and Eve had in Eden. The “passions” that the Fathers of the Church described seem to be rooted in our physical desires. Maybe selfishness is an outgrowth of the instinct of self-preservation that is imbedded “in the genes” or almost as deep within us.

Somehow, for transmission of original sin to make sense, it seems to me it has to find its explanation in something along these lines. Can’t say that this is an explanation yet, though.

Thanks to all who have responded so far. If anyone has further ideas, I’d sure be interested in reading them.

Sodbuster


#19

Been thinking about this one all day … here’s a lame attempt at explaination of what i’ve come up with:

  1. Soul is created exnihilo, perfect.
  2. Body is NOT created ex nihilo, and is subject to the limits of matter. Body is thus imperfect.
  3. Soul is united to body. Soul-body is now one. Soul-body is thus imperfect. (Perfect plus imperfect yields imperfect)
  4. Before the Fall, this imperfection was not the case for the body, as it was being sustained by God. Adam and Eve said “beat it, God”. And God, respectful of freedom, withdrew his gift of eternal renewal from the body. Adam and Eve and everyone else are now mortal.
  5. Bodies are mortal, but souls are immortal… but body and soul were united, so there is an imbalance and things are out of whack.
  6. Someone should fix this.
  7. SOMEONE DID! (Christ!) Both body and soul are now immortal.

But… the question is, why does death still happen? If Christ beat death, why do not all baptized and faithful/sincere followers of Christ simply skip the death part and live like Adam and Eve did, (or like Mary) eternally sustained in their bodies by God? Once we honestly and sincerely say to the Lord, “Behold Thy servant!” like Mary did, why can we not be assumed body and soul (and retroactively protected from original sin)?


#20

[quote=bengeorge]Been thinking about this one all day … here’s a lame attempt at explaination of what i’ve come up with:

  1. Soul is created exnihilo, perfect.
  2. Body is NOT created ex nihilo, and is subject to the limits of matter. Body is thus imperfect.
  3. Soul is united to body. Soul-body is now one. Soul-body is thus imperfect. (Perfect plus imperfect yields imperfect)
  4. Before the Fall, this imperfection was not the case for the body, as it was being sustained by God. Adam and Eve said “beat it, God”. And God, respectful of freedom, withdrew his gift of eternal renewal from the body. Adam and Eve and everyone else are now mortal.
  5. Bodies are mortal, but souls are immortal… but body and soul were united, so there is an imbalance and things are out of whack.
  6. Someone should fix this.
  7. SOMEONE DID! (Christ!) Both body and soul are now immortal.

But… the question is, why does death still happen? If Christ beat death, why do not all baptized and faithful/sincere followers of Christ simply skip the death part and live like Adam and Eve did, (or like Mary) eternally sustained in their bodies by God? Once we honestly and sincerely say to the Lord, “Behold Thy servant!” like Mary did, why can we not be assumed body and soul (and retroactively protected from original sin)?
[/quote]

Wow! Excellent thoughts!


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